If your peers have been telling you to take your work a little easy and cut down your junk intake, here’s another reason to trust their advice. Work stress doubles the risk of developing diabetes for women who have little or no control over what they do on the job, according to a new Canadian study. They seek refuge in fat and sugar loaded food to relieve stress, which could raise their blood sugar levels.
The same may not be true for men, though. “Men and women react differently to workplace stress,” says Peter Smith, lead author of the nine-year study by researchers at the Institute for Work and Health and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto.
Smith suggested that women under stress may be “more likely to turn to foods with higher fat and sugar content than men,” as one possible explanation for the results.
The primary reasons outlined in the study for the increased risk for women are the disruptions of neuroendocrine and immune system functioning and incre
ased or prolonged cortisol and sympathetic hormone release in reaction to stress; and changes in diet and energy expenditure, possibly as coping mechanisms.
The researchers followed 7,443 women working in Canada’s Ontario province with no previous diagnoses for diabetes.
Their results, published this week in the journal of Occupational Medicine, showed that 19% of cases of diabetes in women are due to “low job
control,” which is higher than that for smoking, drinking or low physical activity, but lower than for obesity.
Health experts advise taking breaks after every two hours, going for a five minute walk with a colleague and eating healthy and light at the workplace to combat stress. “Even simple things such as keeping your work station organised and playing some nice music can help relieve stress,” says health expert Prachi Agarwal.
Also, never eat at your desk. “You tend to eat more if you’re glued to your desk without even realising,” says Agarwal. Getting a salad packed from home, having fresh juice instead of tea and coffee are also some healthy habits that will help tackle stress.